State Roundup

Detroit

Phone calls, video part of Detroit postal case

DETROIT (AP) -- Authorities say recorded phone calls and surveillance video are part of the evidence against five people accused of taking bribes from a Detroit contractor who repaired Postal Service vehicles.

The disclosure is in documents filed Monday in federal court, less than two weeks after an indictment. Prosecutors are required to show their hand to defense lawyers.

Five people are accused of taking bribes to ensure that Metro Diesel of Detroit was hired to fix mail vehicles in southeastern Michigan and Akron, Ohio. No one from the company has been charged. The filings strongly suggest that the garage assisted federal investigators.

Metro Diesel President Joe Fawaz declined comment Monday. The government says the Postal Service contractor paid more than $130,000 in bribes and provided other benefits to get business.

Detroit

FBI figures show Detroit crime numbers dropping

DETROIT (AP) -- Preliminary figures released by the FBI show an overall decrease last year in violent crimes for most U.S. cities of 100,000 or more people, including Detroit.

Uniform Crime Reports released Monday list Detroit with 16,976 violent crimes in 2010, compared with 18,094 the year before.

Murders in the city dropped from 363 in 2009 to 310 last year. Robberies, aggravated assaults also were down. But forcible rapes increased from 334 to 405. Arsons jumped from 636 to over 1,000.

Despite the decreases, the city's crime rate still was among the highest in the country.

The figures also show that violent crime increased in Flint, Ann Arbor, Lansing and Grand Rapids, but dropped in Sterling Heights and Warren.

The FBI reports a 5.5 percent drop in violent crimes nationally in 2010.

Lansing

Tax Commission decisions can be taken to court

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- The Michigan Supreme Court has struck down part of a state law that prevents people from going to court to appeal decisions from the State Tax Commission.

The Supreme Court was unanimous Monday in saying the final sentence in the law violates the Michigan Constitution.

The tax commission oversees the property-tax laws and advises local assessors. It also hears disputes over how to classify property, such as commercial, agricultural or residential.

The Supreme Court ruled in a case involving companies in four counties. The justices say the state Constitution guarantees that people can go to court to challenge the final decisions of a state agency.

Published: Wed, May 25, 2011